Governor Schwarzenegger, Be Our Shadow President
Schwarzenegger sitting at President Nixon’s desk at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. (Photo by the Richard Nixon Foundation.)
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
I’ve been an admirer of yours for some time, and like you, have anguished over the fact that you are constitutionally ineligible to run for President of the United States. Yours is a truly American story- you’re a Real American Hero- and temperamentally, you are what the American people and the Republic’s institutions need right now. The fact that we can’t vote for you saddens a good many of us old-line moderate Republicans and even more of your loyal fans.
But Mr. Governor, I beseech you- do not give up on the noble quest of service and duty to country. Do not retire to purely private life, and do not forget that you can still exert a good amount of influence over the future of the United States of America- more influence, perhaps, than most Presidents of the United States have in our history as a nation.
Other immigrants have become great public servants, as influential as the Presidents they served and more influential than Presidents they didn’t serve, and left their indelible marks on the country we’ve inherited from them. The greatest example, of course, was Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the greatest American and George Washington’s “Shadow President.” He never earned, and never sought, the Presidency of the United States. But by the force of his mind and will, he served a variety of informal roles- Washington’s Grand Strategist, Washington’s Prime Minister, Washington’s Chief Counsel- that granted him powerful influence over the future direction of the United States. These are things the President cannot do alone, for the President must tend to keeping the people together and making the big decisions. But the President’s right-hand-man and counsel can concoct the schemes which the President puts into action.
Bonnie Reiss has told me that you’re an Executive by temperament and wouldn’t be interested in running for Senator or offering your services as Chief of Staff. I won’t recommend that you do.
But what you could do, Mr. Governor, is embark on a quest to become, again, a major voice in the national Republican Party, and influence future Republican Presidential candidates towards a more moderate course along the lines of something you would pursue.
Moreover, upon the election of the next Republican President of the United States, or even a reasonable Democratic President of the United States, you could offer your services as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, or Secretary of the Treasury- a powerful executive in its own right- and essentially run American diplomacy, military affairs, or public finance as a proxy for the President of the United States. That’s what Secretaries of _______ do. Sure, they take general orders from the President; but they have the discretion of command and administration nonetheless.
In this role, you would be back in the public eye. You will again have influence in the Republican Party and the Federal Government. You will be able to influence the course of events in this country and, in many ways, be a national leader in your own right. And I would bet, that given your acumen and your ambition, that you would do greater things for this country than President Obama, President Bush, and President Clinton ever were able to do even in their Presidencies.
Sometimes the noblest service is by those who stand not behind the microphone, but behind the speaker; the invisible leaders and counselors who brief the Presidents, who build the policy castles the Presidents then use. Every once in a while, someone comes around and masters this art far beyond what any other public servant has done- the last thus far was Henry Kissinger. You may well be the next. The Shadow Presidency does not have quite the power and prestige of the Presidency; but it certainly has all the responsibility.
One more thing, Mr. Governor.
These times portend great trial and tribulation for the nation, and we need another great lawgiver and institution-builder and visionary of the caliber of Washington or Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt to guide us through.
But Washington, Lincoln, and FDR did not do it by themselves. They assembled teams of the best and brightest Americans to do the dirty work, and built the institutions of the Republic time and time again.
You can be on that team. You can be the greatest member of that team, and go down in history as the man who saved the Republican Party, the man who adjusted and rebuilt the nation’s economy, the man who ran American foreign affairs- whichever end or ends you seek. You can serve, and service will make you greater than those who have come before.
Mr. Governor, do not throw away your shot.
Finally, I’m looking for a master to serve in politics. I’m considering working for an establishment Republican- perhaps John Kasich, perhaps Tom Cotton, perhaps John McCain, perhaps Lindsay Graham. But it would be a true honor- a true, true honor, Mr. Governor- to work directly for you, to stand by your side in this moment of history, and to help you do great things. For the future of the country, I hope you consider my suggestion, and re-enter the rough-and-tumble of public life at levels lower in authority, but equal in responsibility and honor, to the Presidency of the United States.
Thank you for reading my message, and God Bless you, Mr. Governor.